Assemblywoman Flores ignores 50 years of education-spending history

Victor Joecks

Today the Las Vegas Sun had a Q&A with Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, where she made this statement.

We need to have some serious conversations about education and it being adequately funded, and what that means. … Everyone always talks about how they are for education. You don't ever find anyone who is against education. So what I tell people is the question should not be: Do you support education? The question should be: Do you support funding education? Because at the end of the day, that's where the parties diverge. That's where you're either for education in action or you're just about education in words. I think for a very long time we've been about education in words. (Emphasis added)

So has Nevada supported education "in words" only or is Flores ignoring or unaware of 50 years of education spending history?

Here's Nevada's inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending over the last 50 years. As you can see, it's nearly tripled.


Sometimes I think people don't realize the significance of adjusting things for inflation, so here's Nevada's per-pupil spending over the last 50 years, not adjusted for inflation.


Also, state funding of education is at its highest level ever. While there have been some declines in local tax revenue, I repeat, state funding through the Distributive School Account is at its highest level ever. From NPRI's Solutions 2013 (p. 29 in the PDF, p. 27 in print):

While accurate information is always important in policy discussions, it is especially important to education policy where Nevada has the lowest graduation rate in the country and for 50 years has tried to solve our education problems by spending more. And if lawmakers like Flores get their way, we'll continue to try (and fail) to spend our way into a solution.

So what should Nevada do? Empower parents to choose the school that's best for their child through tuition-tax credits, Education Savings Accounts or vouchers. As the Friedman Foundation has detailed in a recent study, school choice benefits both students who use choice options and those who choose to stay in public schools.

  • Ten empirical studies have used random assignment, the gold standard of social science, to examine how vouchers affect participants. Nine studies find that vouchers improve student outcomes, six that all students benefit and three that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. None of these studies finds a negative impact.
  • Nineteen empirical studies have examined how vouchers affect outcomes in public schools. Of these studies, 18 find that vouchers improved public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical studies find that vouchers harm public schools.
  • Every empirical study ever conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Maine and Vermont finds that voucher programs in those places improved public schools.
  • Only one study, conducted in Washington D.C., found no visible impact from vouchers. This is not surprising, since the D.C. voucher program is the only one designed to shield public schools from the impact of competition. Thus, the D.C. study does not detract from the research consensus in favor of a positive effect from voucher competition.

It's time for school choice for every Nevada child.